December/January 2013: News from the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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Latest news from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

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Conservation

"Ranching" feasability study to be undertaken

Thanks to funding received from Natural England, the Board will be undertaking a study into the feasibility of a cooperative approach to grazing in the Cotswolds.

The study, due to begin in February, will examine the business case and landowner attitudes to extensive grazing across ownership boundaries, comparing two selected areas of the Cotswolds.  Grassland is hugely important for biodiversity, climate change adaptation and landscape character, therefore there is a need to ensure a suitable level of grazing to conserve it for the future.  A new approach needs to be explored and the idea of a more co-operative approach to livestock farming has emerged.

The results from the study will be used to to provide a more comprehensive evidence base to help inform key decision makers and will also make recommendations for the design of a pilot project.

For further information, contact: Mark Connelly, Land Management Officer: mark.connelly@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk


Cotswolds AONB Climate Change Project Demonstration Funding

Expressions of interest are currently being sought on a competitive basis for up to a total of four exemplar climate change mitigation and adaptation capital works projects within the Cotswolds AONB which could potentially benefit from a small grant of between £2,000 and £10,000.

The objective is to increase awareness of climate change issues and investment opportunities for small businesses and other community based organisations within the Cotswolds AONB, through the implementation of a variety of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other resource management activities, which help to reduce green-house gas emissions and the adverse impacts of climate change.

For further information, please contact James Lloyd, Climate Change Adviser on 01451 862033 or email: james.lloyd@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk


Mega Amounts of Renewable Energy

With ever increasing grid energy prices, the Cotswolds Conservation Board is playing an active part in helping to reduce these business costs and power our low carbon economy.

Significant progress has been made during the last year in the establishment of a free ‘energy smart’ business advice service, using funding received from National Grid, and delivery of increased numbers of appropriate renewable energy projects across the AONB.

Achievements to date include one-to-one support for 65 businesses, 14 carbon audits completed, over 100 solar photovoltaic and other renewable energy schemes consented, plus over 26 small projects supported focused on energy efficiency, flood prevention, and effective soil and water resource management.

For further information, including details of two case studies showing implementation of renewable energy schemes, please click here.


Understanding and enjoying

Cotswold Way diverts to Star College

Walkers, students and local businesses are set to benefit from a diversion of the Cotswold Way National Trail, thanks to funding received from Natural England.

The diversion, which will take place in the vicinity of the National Star College at Ullenwood, will allow a much safer route for trail users, avoiding a busy stretch of road at Leckhampton Hill.  It will also provide a welcome boost for the Star College itself.  The present route bypasses the college and its facilities, but with the diversion in place, many of the Trail's 350,000 users will have easy access to the cafe, campsite and a number of new 'camping pods' due to be constructed this year. 

Students at the college, one of the country's foremost training and rehabilitation centres for disabled young people, will also now have a dedicated link between the college and the Crickley Hill Country Park allowing them to access the many benefits of this SSSI through the use of mobility scooters pledged to the college by Countryside Mobility South West.


Cotswolds & Our Land competition launched with Ordnance Survey

A new and exciting competition has been launched by Our Land featuring a range of products from the Cotswolds AONB and in partnership with Ordnance Survey.

The competition, which is being run on Facebook, features a week's accommodation at Westley Farm, near Stroud, a tailor-made OS map of the Cotswolds, a rural skills course of the winner's choice, plus other prizes offered by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Painswick Rococo Garden.  The competition is being promoted via newsletters, websites, social media plus direct mailings to OS database of over 350,000 contacts.

For further details and to enter, go to: https://www.facebook.com/ourlanduk/app_190322544333196

Meanwhile, tourism businesses across the Cotwolds AONB continue to show their commitment to the environment, landscape and local communities with over 100 products now featured on Our Land - www.our-land.co.uk


Updated Explore the Cotswolds Guide published

The new Explore the Cotswolds by Public Transport guide Dec 2012 - May 2013 has been published.

The guide provides details of bus and rail routes across the Cotswolds AONB,  as well as a route plan and access points for the Cotswold Way, great taster days out ideas on foot and by bike, plus an extensive list of visitor attractions.

The guide is distributed to visitor information centres throughout the Cotswolds plus is available to download here.

As well as the guide, full details of all bus services across the Cotswolds can be viewed at: www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk/travel


People and communities

Research survey launched to assess value of the Cotswolds AONB to the local economy

The value of the Cotswolds AONB to the local economy is the subject of a new research survey being undertaken by the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

Working on behalf of the Board, Cotswolds-based firm Cumulus Consultants are asking businesses across all industry sectors throughout the area for their views on how being located in the AONB makes a difference to their business. The results of the research will be presented at the Board’s Annual Forum on 1 March and will be used to help identify opportunities whereby the AONB and the local business sector can work together for mutual benefit.

The survey for businesses is open until 25 January and can be accessed by going to: www.ghkint.com/surveys/cotswoldsaonb

For further information, contact Nicola Greaves, Information & Interpretation Officer: 01451 862003 or nicola.greaves@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk


Stephen gets off to a flying start

Having been appointed as Farm and Woodland Adviser at the end of last year Stephen is settling into his new role and is already helping four woodland owners with woodland grant applications and two farmers with environmental stewardship agreements.Stephen has also been advising land owners as to which schemes may be appropriate for their holdings and providing information regarding recent scheme alterations.

With changes to rural grant funding at the end of 2013 there is a need to submit all stewardship and woodland grant applications within the next few months to ensure approval. If you would like more information about stewardship or grants contact Stephen on 01451 862038 or stephen.westmore@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk


Bisley Environment & Sustainability Trust (BEST) receives funding for seed saving training

Sustainable Development Funding of £1,100 have been awarded to provide training on seed saving techniques to preserve local heritage fruit and vegetable varieties as part of the BEST Learning project. The training will be delivered by Garden Organic and the Heritage Seed Library who are based in Ryton, Coventry. The sessions will take place at the Bisley Allotment and/or the Old Nursery site.

The funding will enable around ten newly trained seed saving mentors to be equipped with the knowledge and skills in seed saving techniques that they need to be able to provide training in these skills to others. The mentors will each go on to train others in the community who wish to become seed saving guardians for the Heritage Seed Library in Ryton and to contribute to a local seed bank as a Gloucestershire hub.

There are many gardening groups within the Parish and the District who are interested in taking part in seed saving training and guardianship, with ages ranging from 25 to 75. There are also plans to involve local schools in the project by training teachers as guardians who can then save seeds with their pupils.


Diary dates

Cotswolds Conservation Board Annual Forum
Friday 1 March 2013, Forest Green Rovers, Nailsworth

Cotswolds Farming Forum
Tuesday 19 March 2013, Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester (TBC)

Rural Skills Courses taking place in the next couple of months:

Stone Masonry - Taster Day 4 February, Filkins, Oxfordshire
Hedgelaying - Beginners (Midland style) 16-17 February, Coberley, Gloucestershire (COURSE FULL)
Woodland Coppicing: 20 February, Coberley, Gloucestershire
Woodland Coppicing: 23 February, Limpley Stoke, Bath
Blacksmithing - Taster Day: 24 February, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
Hedgelaying - Beginners (Somerset style): 2-3 March, Luckington, Wiltshire
Stone Masonry - Taster Day: 5 March, Filkins, Oxfordshire

For further information on all courses: www.cotswoldsruralskills.org.uk